I love the highly original concept of Maroni’s Hot Pots–you can take out or get delivery of gorgeous red ceramic pots full of classic Italian food to serve one to six people. But as of January 2016, you can eat in as well. They have an intimate dining room at their location at 303 East 77th Street in Manhattan that seats just 14 people. The decor is exposed brick mixed with lots of red pots and Beatles memorabilia. The centerfold of Sgt. Pepper is the design on the banquettes and there is plenty of fun Beatles memorabilia on the wall including a replica of the bass drum on the cover of Sgt. Pepper! Not surprisingly, they play classic rock as you dine! By the way, when you return each adorable red pot, you get a $4 rebate.
I tried several items when I visited a week ago and was thoroughly impressed. First of all, they are famous for their meatballs, made with both pork and veal. The Maronis use an old family recipe directly from the old country that has been passed down for three generations now. These are their must have item, but it is best to have them served with a pot full of their tender macaroni. Need I say that their fantastic tomato sauce is meat-based and has loads of flavor. I say that it rivals my late dad’s recipe and that is saying a mouthful!
You can get five giant meatballs for only $12 when you dine in, and those are enough to make any one person full!
Their Pop’s Pizza Bread is a must. It is topped with tons of fresh mozzarella and basil and the portions are so huge (even as an appetizer that coats only $5) that each slice is a meal in itself. You get tons of the Maroni’s wonderful family style tomato sauce on each slice and fresh basil as well!
Their Clam Oregata is becoming a fast favorite in the neighborhood, especially since they use hand-seasoned breadcrumbs and supertender small clams that are fresh out of the net! You get 12 for only $15, which is a great deal.
They make wonderful raw salads for people who are more health-conscious ($8) and have wonderful daily market vegetables ($12). When I visited, I fell in love with both items; the vegetable of the day was Chinese long beans sauteed in garlic and olive oil and they were tender and organic!
Many guests are also loving the Rigatoni Cognac Pomodoro which has a slightly sweet taste and and has a swirled fresh ricotta basil “fondue” on the top. All pasta dishes seem to be in the $14 to $20 range, which is great for such a generous portion,
Another heralded dish is the Chicken Milanese which is about $28 for a large portion featuring about a pound of delicious tender chicken breast and about a half pound of gorgeous fresh mozzarella. It is drizzled with EVOO and gourmet balsamic and is possibly the best version of this dish I have ever had in Manhattan
There are three dessert offerings ($8) each–a large cannoli, tiramisu and chocolate mousse! Two can easily sahre these desserts and I love the way my cannoli was overstuffed and featured oodles of dark chocolate chips on the ends!
For more info on this wonderful eating establishment with a strong neighborhood feel, go to http://www.maronihotpots.com. They also have an older location at Northport, LI which is also full of wonderful Beatles memorabilia. I will be stopping back to the Upper East Side location ery soon. If you live in the neighborhood, you know that waitstaff is often outside handing out free meatballs–one bite and you will be hooked!
(All food photos by Paul Wagtouicz.